One of the significant change in NEP 2020 is to give importance to the mother tongue because that is what a child learns first. Educating the child in mother tongue till Grade 5 will help the child learn easily, and not get confused when in school.
But what if the mother herself doesn’t use her mother tongue, and prefers talking in English. Urban mothers start talking to their child in English from the day he is born. The only few non-English words the child learns is from grandparents or the servants.
I am a Gujarati, brought up in Mumbai, did my schooling in English medium, with 2 ‘language subjects’, Marathi as a state language and Hindi as a national language. The 4th language that I learnt is Gujarati, from my parent’s conversations since childhood.
But I don’t know how to read or write in Gujarati. Till today, I don’t see much use of learning Marathi and Gujarati. I can use my National language Hindi when I meet people from Western, Central, Northern, and Eastern India or visit these places. Similarly using English in North-East and Southern Indian states.
The only place where I have to make use of Marathi and Gujarati is while reading the board on the state transport buses (MSRTC and GSRTC), that too many times I just enquire in Hindi.
In my opinion, all the schools should be in English medium with one subject as Hindi and leave the mother tongue to be taught by the parents at home. If the parent wants their child to take up the 3rd language and do a major in it, then let them do it after college.
Don’t burden the child with too many languages till grade 12 at least. Learning a language as a ‘language subject’ compared to as a medium of schooling makes a lot of difference. From grade 1 to 10, I learnt Marathi as a language subject, that means I don’t understand the Marathi keywords from history, geography or science subjects. Because Marathi as a language subject, we had limited chapters to learn every year with stories, and a little bit of literature.
Today if I try to read Marathi newspaper, I come across with a lot of words which are difficult to understand because I haven’t heard of in my school studies, I have to google it for the meaning. Whereas the Marathi medium educated person won’t have any difficulty with those same words, but he will have the same situation for English newspapers.
Till 5th grade, a child learns in one language, and from next year he has to start learning in a different language. This will not make him expert in any of the language. I mean, you cannot start learning a new language from the middle of your schooling years. It has to be from the beginning.
Secondly, if courses like computational thinking and coding are implemented, then how is that going to be taught in non-English languages. Deferring English till grade 5 or 8 and then start teaching coding in English will make it more difficult for them to learn.
In my opinion, the government should offer and promote the language certificate courses with minimum eligibility of 8 grade and above. This way, anyone who wants to learn the 3rd language would be able to do so in the 6-month certificate course, followed by a yearly advanced course in that language.
I am not opposing the point to promote the mother tongue language, what I think is, there is no need to include it in the school, which can be acquired at home from the parents. Though there are fewer chances that this will work in urban areas, it will, at least in rural and semi-rural areas.